A dozen vest-pocket profiles of notorious fugitives—good, bad, and, in the case of Typhoid Mary, ugly.
“If you’re going to change the world, you better be good at running and hiding,” writes DuMont at the start of this uneven collection of bold outlaws. Most of the characters are well-known figures—Cleopatra, Harriet Tubman, John Dillinger, Nelson Mandela—but there are also a handful of lesser-known but serious rabble-rousers: Koxinga (who hoped to restore the Ming dynasty from the Manchus), suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst, and Virginia Hall, who spied for the Allies during World War II. DuMont neatly notes the historical significance of these outlaws, and there is an entertaining collection of artwork to complement the text. But the title of the book gives away its weakness: DuMont overdoes it trying to be chums with her audience. “Spartacus and his new BFF, Crixus,” is typical, as is mention of Cleopatra’s “bling” or “Legend has it that [Martin] Luther was on the toilet when he had his ‘aha’ moment....Instead of stinking up the place for the next thirty minutes, he got to thinking.” It is not just that this approach is pandering, but it removes the subjects from the times in which they lived, thus failing to conjure distinct images about the characters in their particular surrounds.
A fair wealth of good information too often obscured by what feels like a desperate need to be liked. (Collective biography. 9-12)